Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas (1925–1929) is a prescient work of mixed media assemblage, made up of hundreds of images culled from antiquity to the Renaissance and arranged into startling juxtapositions. Warburg’s allusive atlas sought to illuminate the pains of his final years, after he had suffered a breakdown and been institutionalized. It continues to influence contemporary artists today, including Gerhard Richter and Mark Dion.
In this illustrated exploration of Warburg and his great work, Georges Didi-Huberman leaps from Mnemosyne Atlas into a set of musings on the relation between suffering and knowledge in Western thought, and on the creative results of associative thinking. Deploying writing that delights in dramatic jump cuts reminiscent of Warburg’s idiosyncratic juxtapositions, and drawing on a set of sources that ranges from ancient Babylon to Walter Benjamin, Atlas, or the Anxious Gay Science is rich in Didi-Huberman’s trademark combination of elan and insight.
"There are books—few and far between—which carefully, delightfully, and genuinely turn your head inside out. This is one of them. It ranges over some central issues in Western philosophy and begins the long overdue job of giving us a radically new account of meaning, rationality, and objectivity."—Yaakov Garb, San Francisco Chronicle
In Imagination, Meditation, and Cognition in the Middle Ages, Michelle Karnes revises the history of medieval imagination with a detailed analysis of its role in the period’s meditations and theories of cognition. Karnes here understands imagination in its technical, philosophical sense, taking her cue from Bonaventure, the thirteenth-century scholastic theologian and philosopher who provided the first sustained account of how the philosophical imagination could be transformed into a devotional one. Karnes examines Bonaventure’s meditational works, the Meditationes vitae Christi, the Stimulis amoris, Piers Plowman, and Nicholas Love’s Myrrour, among others, and argues that the cognitive importance that imagination enjoyed in scholastic philosophy informed its importance in medieval meditations on the life of Christ. Emphasizing the cognitive significance of both imagination and the meditations that relied on it, she revises a long-standing association of imagination with the Middle Ages. In her account, imagination was not simply an object of suspicion but also a crucial intellectual, spiritual, and literary resource that exercised considerable authority.
Does philosophy have a future? Postmodern thought, with its rejection of claims to absolute truth or moral objectivity, would seem to put the philosophical enterprise in jeopardy. In this volume some of today's most influential thinkers face the question of philosophy's future and find an answer in its past. Their efforts show how historical traditions are currently being appropriated by philosophy, how some of the most provocative questions confronted by philosophers are given their impetus and direction by cultural memory. Unlike analytic philosophy, a discipline supposedly liberated from any manifestation of cultural memory, the movement represented by these essays demonstrates how the inquiries, narratives, traditions, and events of our cultural past can mediate some of the most interesting exercises of the present-day philosophical imagination. Attesting to the power of historical tradition to enhance and redirect the prospects of philosophy these essays exemplify a new mode of doing philosophy. The product of a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute in 1990, it is the task of this book to show that history can be reclaimed by philosophy and resurrected in postmodernity.
Contributors. George Allan, Eva T. H. Brann, Arthur C. Danto, Lynn S. Joy, George L. Kline, George R. Lucas, Jr., Alasdair MacIntyre, Robert C. Neville, John Rickard, Stanley Rosen, J. B. Scheenwind, Donald Phillip Verene
By applying the tools of deconstruction to crucial texts of German Idealism, John Sallis reveals the suppressed but essential role of imagination in even the most ambitious attempts to represent pure reason.
Sallis focuses on certain operations of "spacing" in metaphysics—textual lapses and leaps in which reason is displaced or suspended or abridged. In the project of establishing priority of reason, such operations can appear only in disguise, and Sallis reveals the play of imagination and metaphor that masks them. Concentrating on what has been called the closure of metaphysics, he examines texts in which the suppression of spacing would be carried out most rigorously, texts in which even metaphysics itself is seen as only an errant roaming, a spacing that must still be secured, to be replaced by a pure space of truth. And yet, in these very texts Sallis identifies outbreaks of spacing that would disrupt the tranquil space of reason. Rather than closure, he finds an opening of reason to imagination.
Sallis's reading of a metaphorical system in the Critique of Pure Reason reveals a fissuring and historicizing of what would otherwise be called pure reason. Next he traces in Fichte's major work as well as in several lesser-known texts a decentering from reason to imagination, which he characterizes as a power of hovering between opposites and beyond being. Sallis then returns to the Critique of Pure Reason to expose, in relation to the famous question of the common root of reason and sensibility, a certain eccentricity of reason. Proceeding to the Critique of Judgment, he traces a divergence of sublime nature away from that supersensible space of reason to which Kant would otherwise assimilate it—a withdrawal toward an abyss. Finally, Sallis turns to Hegel's Encyclopedia, supplementing his reading with previously unknown notes from Hegel's lectures on those sections dealing with imagination; his reading of those sections serves to expose, within the most rigorous reduction of spacing in the history of metaphysics, an irrepressible and disseminative play of imagination.
Spinoza’s Ethics, and its project of proving ethical truths through the geometric method, have attracted and challenged readers for more than three hundred years. In Spinoza and the Cunning of Imagination, Eugene Garver uses the imagination as a guiding thread to this work. Other readers have looked at the imagination to account for Spinoza’s understanding of politics and religion, but this is the first inquiry to see it as central to the Ethics as a whole—imagination as a quality to be cultivated, and not simply overcome.
Spinoza initially presents imagination as an inadequate and confused way of thinking, always inferior to ideas that adequately represent things as they are. It would seem to follow that one ought to purge the mind of imaginative ideas and replace them with rational ideas as soon as possible, but as Garver shows, the Ethics don’t allow for this ultimate ethical act until one has cultivated a powerful imagination. This is, for Garver, “the cunning of imagination.” The simple plot of progress becomes, because of the imagination, a complex journey full of reversals and discoveries. For Garver, the “cunning” of the imagination resides in our ability to use imagination to rise above it.
In recent years, Richard Kearney has emerged as a leading figure in the field of continental philosophy, widely recognized for his work in the areas of philosophical and religious hermeneutics, theory and practice of the imagination, and political thought. This much-anticipated--and long overdue--study is the first to reflect the full range and impact of Kearney's extensive contributions to contemporary philosophy.
The book opens with Kearney's own "prelude" in which he traces his intellectual itinerary as it traverses the three imaginaries explored in the volume: the dialogical, the political, and the narrative. The interviews that follow the first section allow readers to listen in on conversations between Kearney and some of the most interesting and respected thinkers of our time--Noam Chomsky, Charles Taylor, Jacques Derrida, Paul Ricouer, and Martha Nussbaum--as they reveal new and unexpected aspects of their thought on stories and mourning, ethics and narrative, terror and religion, intellectuals and ideology. The next section, on the political imaginary, looks at Kearney's distinctive contribution to the political situation in Ireland and in Europe more generally; and in the last, on narrative, writers including David Wood, Terry Eagleton, and Mark Dooley focus on Kearney's novels as instances of narrative theory put into literary practice. Concluding with Kearney's postscript, an essay on "Traversals and Epiphanies in Joyce and Proust," the volume comes full circle, encompassing the full extent of Richard Kearney's engagement and offerings as a philosopher,